XM in depth: Channel 11

Fortified by a listen to some “classic country” and some exposure to CMT, I was ready to dive right into Nashville, XM’s country hits station. Well, technically, “Highway 16” is XM’s country hits station, while this is “today’s current top 40 Country hits.” Anyone else think XM goes a little overboard in compartmentalizing its music database?

Bryan White, Someone Else’s Star – Slow ballad with the fiddle and steel guitar shimmering as if to suggest a gentle waving motion. That backdrop and the tasteful piano fills are nice and pleasant, as is White’s voice, but the lyrics drag this one down. Besides, they’re about envy, and that’s a deadly sin. Again, the red states listen to this stuff?

Paul Brandt, Convoy – Back to the ’70s we go … except that this is a cover version. Seemed very literal, though I haven’t listened to the original in quite a while. (Let’s see … quick check of AllMusic … yep, Erlewine says it “all too faithfully mimics” the original.) It’s basically a song about taunting the police, National Guard and even “long-haired friends of Jesus,” so AGAIN I’ll ask — these are the anthems of the red states? In fact, AllMusic.com claims that the original is basically an anthem of blue-collar libertarianism, which seems a little at odds with the core values of Bush backers. And an ode to the CB craze, of course. Remember that?

Keith Whitley, When You Say Nothing At All – This guy sounds an awful lot like Randy Travis, which is not a bad thing. The song’s a little flimsy but not grating.

Diamond Rio, Mirror Mirror – A guitar riff in search of a song.

Lila McCann, Kiss Me Now – “Get it over with … I’ll make it easy on you.” OK. If I kiss you now, will you stop singing? Will the band do what it clearly wants to do — break into a cover version of Afternoon Delight?

George Strait, The Chill of an Early Fall – I have absolutely no comment. It’s a remarkably typical country ballad, with thin symbolism, a deep voice and … you get the picture.

Emerson Drive, I Should be Sleeping – “I never knew there were such great movies on TV at 3 a.m.” Good start. And not a bad song at all. Hand it to Barenaked Ladies, and you’d have a solid post-alt-rock hit. (And wouldn’t you know it — they’re Canadian.)

Around here, the player stopped updating with the song titles. They came back on in time to catch Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying, which I can’t quite get into because if I were living like I were dying, I’d order pizza every night and call in sick to work.

So that’s enough. I’ll need to hear it all again on Highway 16 down the road, anyway.

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